Four people were killed and at least one was injured in a shooting and fire early Saturday morning in Maryland, according to authorities, who said the suspect was shot by police and was among the dead.
Authorities said it was not immediately clear what led to the violence on a residential street in suburban Baltimore, and they did not immediately identify the suspect or the victims.
Gail Watts, who lives down the street from where the fire destroyed at least two residences, told The Associated Press she rushed outside around 6:30 a.m. after hearing an explosion. She saw a massive fire and a man she identified as a longtime neighbor standing in middle of the street.
Watts then heard gunfire and saw people running for cover. She said she heard the suspect’s next-door neighbor screaming for help. “And next thing I know I looked out and he had shot her and she was laying on the sidewalk,” Watts said.
Watts, who said she’s lived in the neighborhood for 25 years, said the suspect had been aggressive to neighbors in the past.
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“He was paranoid for a long, long time,” she said.
Another longtime neighborhood resident, Kweku Quansah, told the Baltimore Sun what took place Saturday morning was “not surprising.” Quansah told the newspaper he heard an explosion, went outside to check and found shots were being fired toward him. He told the newspaper that the suspect had often confronted neighbors, who had reported him to police.
“We don’t know why he was doing that but this has been going on over and over again. A lot of people tried to complain about it but nothing was done,” Quansah said.
Baltimore County Police spokeswoman Joy Stewart said at a news conference that officers responded to reports of both a fire and active shooter in the neighborhood in Woodlawn, west of Baltimore, around 6:40 a.m.
Officers found an armed male outside and shot him, she said.
Authorities then began fighting a fire that started in a townhouse and spread to two others, Tim Rostkowski, a county fire department spokesman, said at the news conference.
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The building where the fire started as well as one adjacent to it collapsed, Rostkowski said, and a third dwelling was heavily damaged.
“We have this fire that happened. We also have this suspect who was armed. How they’re all related, it’s really too early to tell at this point,” Stewart said.
Police initially said the death toll was three. In an update Saturday afternoon, they said that in addition to the suspect, two men and one woman were dead. They added that another man had been taken to a hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
An investigation and search of the scene for possible additional victims was ongoing. A news briefing was expected Saturday evening.